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By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 10:31pm PT  

The Washington Post is reporting this in tomorrow's paper:

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

Now go watch Bush not answer Charlie Gibson's direct question about precisely that on tomorrow's GMA interview (I've seen the preview).

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Letters intended for miss their target!
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 8:54pm PT, a very funny parody website, has just discovered the misaddressed email they've been receiving in their "catch-all" mailbox intended for addresses of Peruse the "dead letters" from GOP operatives! Share your favorite finds in comments here (and give Mary Matlin a phonecall with our best regards while you're there!)

Can't these guys get anything right?

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It keeps going...and going...and going...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:20pm PT  

"Pacific John" at DKos has info on the now vanished "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated" from a State Dept. website report on a "very embarrassing Nov 10, 2001 State Dept. Report" on "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda".

I've found other missing material from the State Dept. website, but haven't had time yet to report it in detail, unfortunately. Glad they're picking up the ball at Daily Kos!

(Thanks to tipster Brad J. for this one!)

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

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Who can keep up?
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:06pm PT  

While I've gotten sidelined a bit on the "Shrub Scrub" story, other all-new all-more-incredible failures of this administration have been hitting the wires. Most notably the 380 tons of explosive material that went unsecured and now missing from Al-Qaqaa after the U.S. capture of Iraq.

Apparently the latest White House / Wingnut line is that this is no big deal, and we don't even really know for sure when these 380 tons of explosives(!) went missing.

Josh Marshall, who's all over this one, shows that not only has the Administration known about this for over a year (only of actual concern to the White House now that the media has reported the story) but contrary to the denials of the Bush Dead Enders, the explosives which the U.N. and the IAEA both notified the U.S. about before the war was indeed found to be there, according to AP after we invaded Iraq:

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said US-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

So it was there, and we didn't secure it, and now the White House is stuck in another lie, fib, mislead, failure, disaster...whatever you wish to call it.

The extraordinary thing at this point seems to be that the sheer unprecedented number of failures for a single administration may, in the end, help them cover up all of them! From 9/11 to WMD's to Abu Ghraib to Increases in Terrorism to 9/11 Commission failures to Backdoor Drafts to deadly Flu Vaccine mishaps to Website Scrubbing to Job Losses to Increases in Poverty Rates to Decreases in the number of Insured to rises in Health Costs to Rising Death Tolls to Unsecured Munitions Sites to Insufficient Forces on the Ground to Osama bin Laden both running and hiding...and on and on...Who can keep up with it all?

I suspect, as when America simply became turned off to endless silly (and unproven) allegations of scandal during the Clinton Administration, it's likely America may end up viewing actual disastrous policy failures-- most of which have made America less safe and certainly less better off than we were four years ago --- as more than they are able to process. I know I can hardly process it all anymore, and I'm paying attention!

Will Bush's endless failures turn out to be his trump card in the end? It's amazing to ponder that this may be the very thing that Bush and Co. now have to hang their hat on!

"Bush/Cheney '04: Who Understands Disaster Better Than Us?!"

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(Shrub Scrub? HTML-File-Gate?)
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 2:09pm PT  

· 10/06/04: WH Scrubs Coalition List from Website...
· 10/17/04: WH caught red-handed trying to cover tracks...
· 10/18/04: Bush's "not that concerned" about bin Laden Audio/Video goes missing...
· 10/21/04: More embarrassing Audio/Video files found missing from site...
· 10/22/04: 'Vanished Coalition List' story hits AFP news wires...
· 10/24/04: Scrubbed files in violation of "Presidential Records Act"...
· 10/25/04: Washington Post gets in game, covers Scrub story twice in one day...
· 10/25/04: State Dept. website scrubbed as well!...
· 10/26/04: WH uses website to campaign for Prez!...
· 10/29/04: SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...
· 1/21/05 (Yes, '05!): Reuters Reports: "White House Scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' List" (What took ya so long?!)
· 9/15/07: White House Still Lying About Coalition in Iraq After All These Years...
· 12/5/08: Altered White House Iraq War Docs "Discovered" by University Professor...More Than Four Years After The BRAD BLOG Originally Reported Same

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And the White House lies about it again.
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 1:08pm PT  

Looks like I can back off a bit, for the moment, on my criticism of the print media (if not the broadcast media) as The Washington Post today has finally picked up the "White House Website Scrub" story in two different pieces. (Unlike the wire report on AFP/Yahoo, both WaPo stories were kind enough to give credit to yours truly for breaking the story.)

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler cover the story on page 6 of today's paper here. And then Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" follows up a bit on that report here.

Since Froomkin's column does not get archived on the WaPo site (I don't think) and since a few minor corrections should be made to his report, I'll run it here in it's entirety:

"White House Briefing"
Dan Froomkin - Monday, Oct 25, 2004; 12:22 PM
The Washinton Post

Missing from the Web

Is the White House scrubbing its Web site?

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler write in The Washington Post about the mystery of the disappearing Coalition of the Willing --- and more.

"Blogger Brad Friedman, who noticed the disappearance, believes this is part of a widespread 'scrubbing' of documents on the government site. Gone are links to the audio and video of President Bush's statement that 'I'm not that concerned' about Osama bin Laden, a Q&A when Bush said 'misunderestimate' and Bush's acknowledgment that his decision making on stem cell policy was 'unusually deliberative for my administration.'

"Jimmy Orr, who handles the content for the White House site, said nothing nefarious was intended. 'We have some 80,000 pages and 3,000 video and audio links,' he said. 'When we republish pages and move files, some links are bound to go down, and there are bound to be dead pages.' "

For the record, the March 2001 press conference where Bush first said "misunderestimate" is in fact on the site; the transcript just says "mis-understimate" instead. Using Google, I found another version of the coalition list on the Web servers, for those of you who are curious. And the July 2001 press conference where Bush spoke about his unusual deliberation is in fact also on line. But the other stuff is indeed missing.

Indeed, as Froomkin reports, the audio from the "March 2002 press conference" where Bush used "misunderestimate" is now back online. It was not there when we originally reported that part of the story a few days ago. But as the other WaPo piece on this today from Dewar and Faler report, James Orr, head of content for the White House website claims that staffers are now "'clicking on every single audio and video link on our site' to make sure they work. So that could be one of the pages where they've now restored the previously missing audio.

In regards to the other version of the coalition list Froomkin was able to find by searching Google, as we reported old versions of the coalition list could be found via searching, but that the latest coalition list, the version linked to their actively updated "RENEWAL IN IRAQ: the Coalition" special report was expressly removed from that report just after Dick Cheney blasted John Edwards in the Veep Debate for being "dead wrong" for not counting Iraqi casualties as part of the coalition. That issue is explained, with before and after screenshots here.

Finally, the transcript for the "July 2001 press conference" where Bush spoke about being "unusually deliberative for my administration" on Stem Cell research was always available online, as my report on that indicated at the time. It was only the Audio and Video from the press conference that was not --- and is still not, as of this post --- available online. The links to them are there, but the content is unavailable.

Nonetheless, those are minor issues and I'm glad to see the media picking up on this story at all. I hope they will also look into the issues of possible criminal violations by the White House of the Presidential Records Act that I reported on last night.

Most importantly, I hope the media keep pressing the White House on all of this since their ridiculous cover story (now given by Orr to both AFP and WaPo) has been pretty pathetic. As the Dewar and Faler story reported in it's final graf...

As for the Coalition of the Willing? "This coalition list was dated and inaccurate," Orr said. He said another will be posted "as soon as we get a new one" --- without countries such as Costa Rica, which last month asked to be removed from the list.

So Orr is suggesting here that it takes over a month to remove a single line of text from an HTML web page?! Yet they were able to both delete the original page --- a list which never contained the country of Iraq, as Cheney suggested --- and remove the graphic link to that list from their special report on Iraq just a day or two after we first reported on it? But they can't seem to provide a list of coaltion countries during a time of war and in the middle of a Presidential campaign?

If you believe that, you probably also believe that "freedom is on the march" in Falluja.

These guys are incredible, and will say anything to cover their asses for what is clearly a cynical and corrupt, and likely illegal (remember that "rule of law" that used to matter?) use of the historical record on the publically funded White House website. Sadly, it's all merely demonstrative of the way everything in this administration seems to be handled.

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

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Desperation Reveals Character
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 9:13pm PT  

Just when you thought there was no new depths for these Bush bigots to plumb...Homophobia becomes a fully outted and approved Bush/Cheney campaign tactic. Why hide it in the closet? I guess we should expect nothing less from these people. Sad and pathetic. Be horrified..

Vote November 2nd.

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Meanwhile...the Mainstream Media would rather go Goose Hunting.
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 5:56pm PT  

On Nov. 1, 2001 George W. Bush issued Executive Order #13233 which modified some of the measures of the "Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978", instituted in the wake of the Nixon Administration's legal imbroglio over which Presidential documents were private and which were public. The PRA, according to the National Archives, "changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public."

In a bit of Orwellian irony that has now become all too recognizable for the Bush Administration, their Executive Order #13233 which modified that PRA, is not listed at all on the White House website page entitled ôExecutive Orders Issued by President Bushö.

Despite the changes implemented by George W. Bush, the PRA still "Defines and states public ownership of the records" as the National Archives points out.

Specifically, the National Archives makes it clear:

Presidential records are defined as:
Documentary materials, or an reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, his immediate staff, or a unit or individual or the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have and effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President [44 U.S.C. ▀ 2201(2)].

These records can be in a variety of media, including paper, audiovisual, and electronic.

The Clinton Administration was the first to have a White House website, and indeed the original architects of that site apparenty took great pains to create a precise "versioning" system to capture various changes to the content over time. As the National Archives website on this notes; "These versions are historical materials." One can still view all of the various versions of the Clinton White House's website via that link.

Over the past several weeks, the BRAD BLOG has been chronicling the stark difference in the Bush Administration's management of their White House website. We've caught them red-handed as they hastily removed the website's list of Iraq "coaltion" members just after the V.P. Debate when Dick Cheney accused John Edwards of being "dead wrong" for not counting Iraqi casualties as a percentage of "coalition casualties" and then again after the third Presidential Debate when the White House removed damning video footage of Bush admitting at a press conference that he was "not truly that concerned" about bin Laden --- precisely as John Kerry had charged during the debate.

Continued investigation by the BRAD BLOG has found a great deal of information that has vanished from the site. Some of it easily spotted, such as the link to "Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil testifies about terrorism risk insurance" still displayed on this page (a sample from that page is pictured at right) but which now leads instead to a "The file you have attempted to access cannot be found" page.

More troubling, however, are those pages which have simply been modified, or deleted all together and which are not tracked and/or cached (and are therefore lost to the historic record entirely, as discussed shortly) by Internet archive and caching sites. Enormous sections of the White House website then are not indexed or cached at all by these external public archive and search engines.

Therefore, any number of modified and/or deleted pages of "historical material" may now be almost impossible to track, record or even notice. Ever.

Notably, we've documented here just some of the loads of audio and video material that has been "disappeared" from the website. Such audio and video media is not indexed or cached at all on any site by search and archive sites. So the material systematically removed from hundreds of pages at may well be gone for good.

A critic or two have suggested that the White House Website has a policy to remove old media after a year or so for space reasons. Given how inexpensive digital storage space has become and the vast amount of material already catalogued on their website, such an explanation would constitute a strange reason to delete "historical material". As well, such a practice is likely illegal defined by the PRA. But even if one sees "storage space" as a plausible explanation for some of the vanished material, it certainly could not be used to explain their purposefully removed link to their "List of Coalition Members". Good luck trying to find any up-to-date listing of "coalition" countries on the website at this point. Pretty remarkable considering we're in the middle of a war, and Bush/Cheney are parading around the country talking about the strengths of this --- apparently mysterious --- "coalition of the willing".

The AFP wire story that finally picked up on our original reporting at the end of last week offered this "official" explanation:

"This is not unusual. If there is incorrect, or out of date information, we take it down," White House spokesman Jimmy Orr told AFP. "What we're doing right now, with the entire Iraq site, is we're updating the information."

So, in other words, a simple list of "coaltion member" countries that had previously been updated regularly (here's an example of one from April of 2003) to add new countries whenever one came on board, can no longer just be updated to add or remove countries as they come and go. Now, they must just "take it down" entirely instead of updating the information on the page.

Of course they must. With Bush/Cheney running around the country telling folks that Kerry/Edwards are disrespecting "coalition" countries like Iraq (never, ever, ever named as a "Coalition Country" on any White House or State Dept. or Pentagon website page that I've been able to find - and those other Websites have also been scrubbed apparently of such information!) they've now got to use the publically owned White House website, in possible violation of both the PRA and existing campaign laws, to scrub the evidence entirely that might show Bush/Cheney are actively lying to America.

Anyone willing to bet that the "entire Iraq site" won't be "updated" accurately again until some time after, oh, say November 2nd or so?

As this story has gained momentum in the blogosphere, there has been a critic or two --- okay, one, Jim Gilliam, one of the producers of the excellent OutFoxed documentary (who, by the way, has some superb inside skinny on the late-in-the-week O'Rilly "buzz") who seems to be backing up the White House line from the AFP article suggesting the White House is simply removing old media after a year, as some sort of a space-saving policy.

He is wrong. Clearly, on the "Coalition List" issue there is no denying their purposeful cover-up to avoid telling America who the "coaltion" countries are. On that, they've been caught with a hand directly in the cookie jar.

But on the issue of various audio and video being removed from the site, also as reported here, there is ample evidence that Gilliam is giving far too much credence to the White House spin of removing old media after a certain date.

While such a "policy", questionable in and of itself, might have explained some of the media that is no longer available, there is far more evidence suggesting that there is no blanket policy for the removal of audio and video media from the site. Rather, if there is such a policy, it is either a haphazard operation or, more likely, done as the political operatives see fit.

How otherwise to explain the January 21, 2002 video from a Martin Luther King Day event which is still available from the White House website? We're well beyond the suggested one-year expiry date for such material. And, of course, that's just one of many videos well over a year old which are still available for viewing at the White House website.

And take a look at a sampling of Bush's Radio Addresses from all the way back in 2001, just before and after 9/11. Some audio is still there, some isn't:

Could that simply be the result of sloppy webmastering? I suppose so. Though it's certainly of note that audio only from "National Security" and "Compassionate Conservatism" addresses remain online, while Economic, Education and Stem Cell related addresses are no longer available.

As well, it all begs the question as to why a White House as politically structured from the ground up as this one has proven to be, who have now been caught specifically removing politically damaging material and demonstrably lying about virtually every aspect of their four years in power as part of a clearly orchestrated campaign strategy, should now be given the benefit-of-the-doubt on anything anymore.

That notion alone underscores why these guys need to go; if they can't even be trusted in their own country by their own citizens, how are they to be able to represent our best interests and be trusted by any of the nations in the world who's confidence we so desperately need to gain back at this time to assist in all forms of crucial foreign policy?

The unavoidable perception is that of arrogant attempts at deception, displayed by a willful manipulation of the publically funded and historically relevant records of the White House website. The arrogance here is revealed by the fact that it's so simple to demonstrate what theses guys are doing and yet they both continue to do it and lie about it in the bargain.

We're able to follow some of the shenanigans thanks in part to Internet cache and search sites as mentioned, such as Google's Cache and The Wayback Machine. But those sites do not cache old media (audio and video) files, only old documents --- and the White House has even attempted to block caching of those, as reported over a year ago by and others. That policy is still in effect today via a Robots.txt file on the site which provides a long list for Internet search and archive engines describing precisely which directories should not be indexed! And yet, even with all the evidence to the contrary, this White House baldly announces to the American people that this entire process is nothing more essentially than routine maintenance.

Right. And George W. Bush never said he was "truly not that concerned" about Osama bin Laden. Just one of those "ex-agg-er-ations" in a world where words, they continue to hope in these last few days of the campaign, will speak louder than actions.

With the exception of a single AFP report filed on this on-going matter, and despite the story becoming amongst the most discussed in the entire blogosphere over the past week, we still continue to scratch our head and wonder how the Mainstream Media can file report after report about lesbians, wolfpacks, and goose-hunting while possible on-going violations of federal laws by a sitting administration go virtually unreported!

That is a courtesy granted, apparently, only to this administration. I'm sure Al Gore would have appreciated the same back in 2000 when literally hundreds, if not thousands, of reports were filed on a couple of campaign-related phone calls alleged to have been made from a White House telephone and "no controlling legal authority" became the buzz phrase of both the Rightwing and (supposedly) "Liberal" Media from then on through Election Day.

As ever, a different set of "media rules" seem to apply Democrat versus Republican administrations. Never fear. I'm sure the media will suddenly begin to "get it right" again during the Kerry Administration.

Bush/Cheney '04: These aren't the droids you're looking for...

UPDATE 10/25/04: The Washington Post finally picks up the story today! Twice!

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 1:37pm PT  

Summarizing the latest polls, ABC This Week displayed it this way to a clearly concerned Ken Mehlman, chair of Bush/Cheney '04:

Marist: BUSH +1
ABC News: BUSH +1
AP-Ipsos: KERRY +3
NBC/Wall Street Journal: EVEN

Those are simply horrible numbers for an incumbent, since undecideds late in the game have always traditionally broken for the challenger. (Emphasis on traditionally! Everything is whacky this year!)

More troubling for Mehlman though, were these numbers:

Marist: KERRY +8
Pew: KERRY +6
ABC News: KERRY +1
AP-Ipsos: KERRY +4
NBC/Wall Street Journal: KERRY +6

As I've been saying for sometime, unless there's a new shake-up (terrorist attack, huge Kerry foul-up, bin Laden capture, etc.) it's gonna be Kerry in a walk and the Senate goes Democrat.

(Kerry is pictured in the center on right there, Thursday in Minnesota, one of those "Battleground States" that the GOP likes to publically suggest --- emphasis on publically --- will go to Bush.)

Given, however, the concerted, organized and parrallel strategies of the Republicans right now to both keep folks from voting and at the same time spin the premise that Democrats are planning dirty voter tricks and legal challenges to the results (generally, when Republicans make a charge of anything, it means they themselves are actually doing it), there are reasons to stay very vigilant everywhere.

But supporting my suggestion that things are going well for the Dems, I'd point you to MyDD who's been doing terrific analysis of all the various polls out there. Here's what they have to say about actual voting data coming in from early voting in Iowa (one of the Battlegrounds that the conservative media is too frightened to admit will most likely go to Kerry):

In actual votes. With at least 7% of the vote in, right now Kerry holds a sizable lead on Bush:
Ballots Returned %
RNC 28,824 28.2
DNC 51,706 50.6
IND 21,590 21.1
Total 102,120 100.0

Finally, see this WaPo piece about the real concerns of Bush/Cheney '04 as revealed by an insider who has access to their actual internal polling:

The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error --- a statistical tie.

"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,'" the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."

As usual, I predict the safety of the "conventional wisdom" --- which the Mainstream Media enjoys hiding behind --- will prove to be wrong in the end. So give credence to all those "Bush is leading" pronouncements at your own risk. The Mainstream Media has gotten it wrong in the last 3 elections. Why should they stop now?

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By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 12:48pm PT  

The list of newspapers and magazines that endorsed Bush in 2000 but either refuse to endorse him again, or have chosen to endorse Kerry this year continues to grow. (Are there any that endorsed Gore in 2000 but are now endorsing Bush? Any?)

Here's one of the latest to have endorsed Bush in 2000, the conservative Detroit News refusing to endorse Bush again this year:

Four years ago, the choice was clear. We endorsed George W. Bush based on his promises of fiscal conservatism, limited government and prudence in foreign affairs.

Today, we sadly acknowledge that the president has failed to deliver on those promises.
This decision to remain silent will disappoint readers who expect The Detroit News to stand with the Republican presidential candidate come hell or high water. Their expectations are not unwarranted - we have never endorsed a Democrat for president, and only failed to endorse twice before, both times during the Franklin Roosevelt years.
Finally, on the matter of civil liberties, Bush has turned away from the conservative doctrine that the Constitution must be strictly observed.

They had much more to say about the failures of Bush. And, as expected, they also have problems with John Kerry. But it's the Bush bashing that's notable here since this paper is conservative and had previously endorsed Bush in 2000.

They're droppin' like flies folks.

UPDATE: MyDD reports on newspaper endorsements as of this morning "Nationwide, Kerry has picked up 17 Bush papers from 2000, while losing only two Gore papers to Bush."

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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2004 11:28pm PT  

You're just a click away from a hot one-on-one chat with a few Weapons of Mass...Seduction!

Perhaps the single funniest video ad I've seen all season.

After you've watched the commercial, be sure to hit the "LISTEN ONLINE" link as well!

(Big props to Amir for the tip! He will rock you!)

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Force the Media to Keep Reporting on the White House Website Scrub!
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2004 11:47am PT  

Please go to the AFP's wire report on our White House Website Scrub story. Scroll to the bottom of their article where it asks "How do you rate this story?" and select "5" to "Rate this Story Highly" so it helps keep the story up at the top of various news searches!

May help other sources to pick up on it! This is very embarrassing to the White House! Let's help keep up the shame!

More on that AFP story and more later...STILL DEVELOPING...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2004 11:33am PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2004 11:28am PT  

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(Please kill me when this is all over.)
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2004 10:57am PT  

Several great responses to Bush's lame wolf ad...

A great eagle/ostrich video ad from the DNC!

Fin's prescient and troubling "Lone Wolf" video ad (made at least a month ago!)

And finally, yes, it's (Hopefully Sinclair will soon give them time to tell their side of this important story.)

The Bush ad is lame, by the way, if only because the fear tactics he's using are all well and good and expected by now (and it's not particularly scary at that), but the "facts" they give about Kerry voting to "gut intelligence" have all been well debunked as nonsense months ago by (See their article: "President claims 1995 Kerry plan would "gut" the intelligence services. It was a 1% cut, and key Republicans approved something similar.") Nonetheless, they they keep lying about them anyway. Never let a lie get in the way of a good old fashioned fear and smear, I guess.

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